Praised as "masterful" by William Gibson, Lauren Beukes's frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable is follows four narrators living in a dystopian near-future.
Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program. Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers. Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid. Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, these characters crackle with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, Lauren Beukes spins a tale of a utopia gone wrong, satirically undermining the idea of progress as society's white knight.
A Big Brotherly corporation provides public services for a Cape Town beset by a bad economy and plague-ridden slums in this reissue, an intriguing if somewhat shapeless near-future novel from South African author Beukes (Zoo City). The four leading characters are tangentially related through an anti-corporation sabotage plot. Tandeka is gay but marries a destitute and pregnant refugee to protect her. Kendra, a former art student, becomes a nanotech lab rat, who voluntarily becomes addicted to Ghost, a popular drink, and helps to promote it. Toby, whose vocabulary is largely limited to current and projected expletives, amorally mines video games for cash. Lerato, a gifted programmer who clawed her way up out of poverty, schemes to leave her corporate job for a better life. Their amorphous protest against their bleak society aims to create an alternate economy without SIM IDs, which pretend to provide ever-increasing communication but actually enslave people by destroying their humanity, even promoting "art" created out of animals' pain. Beukes delivers a stinging assessment of people who want their government to supply everything that they think they need.